5 Foods a Nutritionist Buys at Costco

I have a household of two in a city condo with little storage space, so a Costco membership might seem like an unlikely expense. But there are some healthy foods I like to keep on hand, so buying in bulk saves me money. Here’s what I buy on my Costco runs.

Cauliflower rice

Cauliflower rice is an easy way to get a serving of vegetables. I like to mix half rice with half cauliflower rice for a serving of whole grains and improved texture. An easy meal is to saute cauliflower rice with your choice of protein. I like chopped chicken or chickpeas and a tasty sauce. For extra nutrition, add some snap peas or broccoli to the pan.

Another trick is to blend some cauliflower rice into a fruit smoothie. You (or your loved ones) won’t even taste it, but you’ll get a serving of veggies.

In any form, cauliflower is nutrient dense with a healthy dose of vitamins C and K. Regular consumption has shown to reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. Cauliflower is also full of satiating fiber, which is a key to maintaining a healthy weight. Frozen vegetables have comparable nutrient quality to fresh, so stock up on your favorites and aim for at least three servings per day.

Frozen Blueberries

Keeping a stash of blueberries in the freezer means I get my favorite fruit long after I’ve eaten them all from my container garden. Blueberries usually make an appearance in my breakfast. They thaw fast, so I like to stir them into oatmeal, yogurt, or pancake batter. Of course, you can also blend them into a smoothie.

Blueberries are among nature’s best sources of antioxidants, which help reduce cell and DNA damage. When your cells are working strong, they can keep you looking and feeling young. Blueberries help reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Costco offers a variety of frozen fruits, so choose what your family likes, so everyone is encouraged to have two servings per day.

Mixed Nut Butter

This was one of my favorite Costco discoveries. Almonds and cashews are mixed with pumpkin, chia, and flax seeds with no salt or sugar added! Let’s dispel the rumors that nuts are “fattening.” Fats are an essential part of the diet. In fact, 30% of your calories should be from healthy fats like nuts. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly good for your heart health and it’s essential we get them in our diets. Oily fish is the best source, but nuts and seeds are good, too. A handful of nuts several times per week is associated with reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease.

I recommend replacing your peanut butter with salt or sugar added with Mixed Nut Butter. It’s delicious and spreadable. You won’t miss what’s not there and you will benefit from the added nutrients. In addition to nut butter, I like to buy canisters of unsalted nuts in bulk. I mix dried fruit with almonds and cashews. I keep a serving in my bag to ward off hanger. When I travel, I pack several servings.

Beans

We eat a lot of beans at my house. My favorite is the versatile chickpea. We always have hummus in the fridge. I’ve even been known to bake chickpeas into chocolate chip cookies. I also like to keep beans on hand to add protein to a salad, cook up as a side dish or mix into a soup or chili.

While I like to buy bags of dried beans, I also keep canned in the cupboard for the sake of getting dinner made quickly. Beans are often canned with a hefty amount of sodium, so buy low-sodium when you can. About 40% of sodium from canned beans can be rinsed away. Just drain the liquid and then give the beans a good rinse in a colander for at least 10 seconds.

In addition to being a more sustainable source of protein than meat, beans pack health benefits. They are high in fiber and can help reduce risk of heart disease.

Tilapia

Tilapia is a protein-rich, sustainable white fish with a low carbon footprint. It’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. If you like to lift heavy at the gym, tilapia can be a healthy source of muscle-repairing protein without adding lots of calories from carbs and fat.

It has a mild taste that will absorb flavors. I like to keep it on hand for fish tacos. It’s especially tasty with a mango or pineapple salsa. Another tilapia bonus is it’s one of the lower-priced fish.

What I Don’t Buy

Of course every household varies, but I very rarely buy fresh vegetables at Costco. With only two of us, we don’t eat the quantity fast enough. Plus, I don’t like the plastic packaging. I will occasionally buy a bag of apples or Cuties oranges. They last in the fridge, so I just pull out a few each morning to fill the fruit bowl.

I also like to stock up on wine, snack bars, and crackers at Costco. I might be a nutritionist, but I still like convenience foods.

Candace Nelson

In the mountains or water debate, Candace Nelson, MS, CN chooses water every time. She is a licensed nutritionist and loves taking any fitness class that makes her forget she's working out. Read more at candacenelson.net



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